POINT PLEASANT BEACH, NJ – The professional services racket in Ocean County is essentially the new face of organized crime in New Jersey. Mayors who take money from donors are expected to return the favor with public professional contracts for lawyers, engineers, and building contractors. On each side of the aisle you have captains and enforcers. This week, political gang warfare which usually takes place in backroom deals in offices owned by Toms River lawyers, insurance brokers and accountants erupted in public.
This week, as Point Pleasant Mayor Paul Kanitra and the township council pushed a resolution to increase salary ranges for engineering and legal services, an argument erupted. Mayor Kanitra and Councilman Bob Santanello escalated the fracas into a shoving match which nearly sent the mayor, wearing a pink salmon-colored suit jacket over the dais.
Santanello took issue with Kanitra’s call for more spending amid the COVID-19 crisis when people are out of work. Kanitra then pointed at Santanello and began screaming at him, prompting the councilman to stand up and confront the shouting mayor.
The two engaged in a shoving match as the councilwoman took control of Kanitra’s gavel, banging it on the dais to bring the meeting to order. It was a noble effort during the heat of combat, but it did not work. Councilman Joseph Furmato was caught in the crossfire and went into an immediate, “bruh!” pose.
Santanello nearly pushed Kanitra over the dais as Kanitra shouted, “Do it! Do it! I’m right here. Here you go, tough guy.”
Kanitra then said he’s going to do something unintelligible while pointing at the cameras. A Point Pleasant police officer intervened and separated the two men.
Santanello delivered the death blow in the match, calling Kanitra a “go for it, ya big 5-year-old”.
Kanitra then readjusted his salmon-colored suit jacket and returned to his seat.
The council meeting continued under the protection of three Point Pleasant Beach police officers. The council voted 4-2 in favor of the pay raises.
“It’s a scam. You’re scamming our taxpayers, you’re scamming our residents and I’m sick of it,” Santanello said after the Jerry Springer moment the two men had with each other.
Kanitra began speaking and Santello started mocking him with hand gestures causing Kanitra to take decisive action, slamming his gavel with brute force against the dais, “You will shut up.”
“I’ll shove that up your ass,” Santanello told the mayor.
Kanitra whined about being assaulted by Santanello who was merely upholding his oath to the people of the borough, “You’re as predictable as you are unintelligent.”